Replacing Speaker Boehner

Speaker Boehner saw the handwriting on the wall and resigned from Congress effective on October 30. As we noted in our last post the Speaker was caught between a rock and a hard place. He did not have 218 votes in the Republican Caucus leaving his fate in the hands of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus.

Today Boehner said that there would be no government shutdown and he would set up a select committee to investigate Planned Parenthood. Boehner appears to have decided to put a number of bills on the floor increasing the debt ceiling and funding the government (including the Export-Import Bank) before he leaves office. These bills will presumably pass with the support of the Democratic Caucus and a portion of the Republican Caucus. This will, of course, outrage Ted Cruz and the “drive the car over the cliff” Conservatives who would rather shut down the government than fund Planned Parenthood.

The irony in this Republican train wreck is than John Boehner is hardly a “Liberal”. Below we show, using our Weekly Constant Space DW-NOMINATE scores, the 83rd, 104th, and 114th House Republican Caucuses along with the positions of the Republican Speakers — William Martin (R-MA), Newt Gingrich (R-GA), and John Boehner (R-OH).

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Boehner is positioned near the middle of the Caucus at 0.515 but what appears to be core of his problem is that the 111 Southern Republicans are located at 0.533 and the 135 Northern Republicans are located at 0.444. Not all of the Southern Republicans oppose the Speaker but as shown by the graph below it is the Southerners who are the most conservative. Boehner’s likely replacement is Kevin McCarthy of California. McCarthy is located at 0.459 near the mean of the Northern Republicans and he is more moderate than Speaker Boehner. The “Ted Cruz” Caucus is unlikely to be able to elect one of their own so that McCarthy is likely to win. The wild card is how intense the civil war in the Republican Caucus will be when Boehner attempts to pass the Debt Ceiling and Government funding bills. The next few weeks should not lack for drama.

Click image to enlarge

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